Have you ever thought, “We should eat out less often — for the sake of our wallets and our waistlines!” Maybe you tried tracking your purchases, keeping almonds in our purses, and beating yourself up. But nothing ever seems to work. What if I told you I could eat out and save money?
A restaurant tax
I decided to do something drastic. I instituted a surcharge for each meal I didn’t make at home. It was a bold move, but I can do anything for a month, right?
I told myself I could eat out or order in as often as I wanted, guilt-free. However, as long as each time I did, I tucked away an equivalent amount of money in a special envelope.
- A $10 trip to the Burger House now cost me $20.
- Thai food for the family meant spending $90 instead of $45.
- And a frou-frou coffee drink was $8, not $4.
To keep myself honest, I imposed a non-negotiable rule: my “tax” was due at the time service was rendered. If I didn’t have the cash to put into my envelope immediately, I couldn’t place my order. It’s difficult enough scrounging through the nooks and crannies of my purse and minivan to find money for a burger on the run. But now I had to find twice as much.
I assumed this experiment would drastically reduce how frequently I ate out, because eating out is expensive, and I had just doubled the cost.
A surprising result
At the end of the month, I removed the bulging envelope from my desk drawer and held the stack of small bills in my hand, curious to see how much I had collected. My heart beat faster as I counted: $185, $190 — I was holding over $200! A mix of emotions swirled to the surface.
Embarrassment — Do we really eat out this much?
Shame — How did this not “cure” me of eating out?
Concern — Had I forgotten to pay a bill?
But those emotions were eclipsed by excitement: We spent $200 eating out last month AND we had an additional $200 saved!!
That means, at least for last month, I could have spent $400 in some other way, if I had chosen not to eat out at all. At the very least, I had $200 in my hand that I could still choose to spend intentionally. The options were endless — all because my experiment failed!
Or had it?
Spending money intentionally
How much money do you spend eating out each month? Is there something you could spend that money on that would give you more satisfaction? Maybe. Or maybe not. How will you know if you’re not intentional?
One Small Win: Try imposing your own restaurant tax. You may eat out less frequently. You may eat out just as often. At least you’ll be making an informed decision. Either way, you’ll gather far more money than you’ll ever find by foraging through your car.
Kendra Burrows has a passion for tending her earthly and spiritual gardens. Some days they overflow with blooms, other days the weeds seem to prevail. In either case, Kendra strives to mindfully recognize God’s grace in her life every day, and to encourage others to tend and nurture their own beautiful gardens.
Kendra is joyfully married with three great kids and son-in-law, and two other lovable nuisances (pets). She lives in Eugene, OR, and teaches psychology at the local college.
Connect with Kendra at www.kendraburrows.com.
It’s a Thursday night and you just invited a friend over for dinner later this weekend.
You’re excited to reconnect and share a meal — until you get a text from this friend: “Hey, just wanted to let you know that I am now a vegan. Hope this won’t be a problem!”
Your heart sinks and anxiety kicks in. What will I make? None of my dishes fit this diet.
Accommodating dietary needs
Does accommodating a dinner guest with dietary restrictions overwhelm you?
Is there a friend whom you’ve avoided inviting over for dinner out of fear that you won’t have a meal that will be both enjoyable and fit his or her diet?
As a gluten intolerant person, I get it. When I first cut gluten out of my diet it really frustrated my friends, family, and me.
(In case you haven’t heard … some gluten free items taste a little like chewing on cardboard. Here’s a list of my favorite go-to gluten free products that I always have in stock.)
At first I created a Pinterest board and started cooking new meals from scratch using special gluten recipes.
Over time however, after adding a few staples to my cooking supplies, I discovered a loophole that made cooking for my diet a breeze!
One Small Win: Rather than making an entirely new dish from scratch, create dishes you already love and modify only the ingredients that don’t fit the diet.
Let’s pretend your signature meal is some kind of pasta dish with meat sauce, but your guest is a vegetarian.
You can make the dish as usual, but leave the meat sauce on the side. You can also make an additional, meat-free sauce and have it on the side, giving your guest options.
Maybe your guest eats meat, but is gluten intolerant? Use certified gluten free pasta instead, and research your other ingredients to see if any of those need replacing.
Here is a worksheet to make this process easier if you are a visual planner like me!
Remember, if all else fails, ask your guest if he or she has any meal recommendations or if specific ingredients will be a problem.
Asking doesn’t make you look dumb; on the contrary, it shows that you care!
Your dinner guest will feel loved and cared for with your efforts and consideration.
Kelsee Keitel is a graduate student, writer and speaker, living in Indianapolis, IN, with her newlywed husband. She is passionate about cultivating sisterhood through vulnerability and introducing young women to the freedom and abundance of life in following Christ. When Kelsee is not snuggled up with a book and sipping tea, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or chatting with her mom.
You can read more about Kelsee’s ministry, Detangled & Free, over at kelseekeitel.com or connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
My publisher has decided to run a month-long sale on two of my ebooks!
The “What’s for Dinner?” Solution: Quick, Easy, and Affordable Meals Your Family Will Love is on sale for $2.99. Click here to purchase!
Meal time can be one of the most hectic times in a mama’s day. With today’s busy schedules, it is easier to drive through than dive in to your kitchen.
These easy steps will help you make meal planning easy so that you can get to the fun part of connecting with your family and not just the food!
Create a master list of meals for the month. Click here for a list of FREEBIES where you can find a shopping/inventory sheet to make your meal planning easy! Keep in mind your family schedule as you create meals for each day. Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to be less chaotic in our home, so I can plan a little more elaborate meal for those days. Now, some days, elaborate may mean that I just put a pat of butter on the green beans before serving, but usually it means that I can make something that might take a bit more time or preparation. The “What’s For Dinner?” Solution is a wonderful resource to create quick, easy, affordable meals.
Put each of the meals into categories for easy planning. A few that I use are Freezer meals – ones that I have on the freezer already, Slow Cooker meals – ones that I will need my crock pot for and create ahead of time, or LOOP meals – Left Over On Purpose. This might mean a turkey pot pie from the leftover turkey from the dinner the night before. Once you have the meals, you can organize what you need for each meal.
Create the calendar and make copies of it for the next couple months. Some things might change, but when you have a template to work from, it makes life a whole lot easier. After you use it, you can evaluate if the system is working.
Planning your meals ahead of time will help you feel more in control and less frazzled at dinner hour. Thinking ahead gives you the freedom to enjoy your day. To help you start planning right away, just subscribe to my blog right over there in the purple little post-it and get a free copy of The Ultimate Guide to Man Food. Easy Peasy!
You know I love you, right?
So, can I just say, with all the love in the world, that I’m just the teensiest bit frustrated with you?
Let me explain.
When I go to speak, and I start talking about dinner, EVERY SINGLE WOMAN rolls her eyes and groans. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is perplexed by dinner.
- “I feel like 5 o’clock sneaks up on me everyday.”
- “I buy hundreds of dollars of groceries and there’s never anything in my house.”
- “My whole family is BORED with what I cook, so why bother?”
I love you all. But I’m just sick of it. Because you all assume that it’s easier for the woman next door. You honestly believe that everyone else is out there, whipping up tasty food for their families, while you are the only one who is THRILLED that you at least have a box of Mac and Cheese that could pass for dinner. (It has two of the four food groups, right?)
Yes, there are some women who don’t panic at 4:00 in the afternoon when it comes to dinner. What do they have that your don’t?
That’s it. They’ve taken the time to write down what they are going to have for a week, (or a month,) so when they go to the grocery store, they have a plan. And when they wake up in the morning and wonder what to defrost, they have a plan. And when their kids have swim practice, they have a plan.
And I KNOW you know this. But when I ask women if they have a plan, they know they should have it all written down, but for some reason or another, (their child needs them, The Real Housewives of the OC is on…) they don’t. And the Panic continues.
I want you to have a plan, and I plan on providing a public service to those of you who do. Here is what I’ll do:
- Here is the link to my 50 Dinner Ideas Worksheet
- Everyone who tells me by Friday at midnight PST what they are having for dinner next week will be entered into a drawing to win one of my books. (This week it’ll be The What’s for Dinner Solution!)
- I’ll share my menu so you have some ideas
This Week’s Menu
Monday Chicken Sausages, Potatoes and Veggies on the Grill
Tuesday Chicken Stir Fry with Brown Rice and Veggies
Wednesday Lemon Pork Roast and Sauteed Spinach
Thursday Going out!
Friday Pulled Chicken Salad
Saturday BBQ – Everyone’s Coming Over
Now tell me. What is your plan for next week? I promise you, if you tell me what you are eating, your week will be so much better. Plus, if you put it in the comments, you will be entered to win my book The What’s for Dinner Project.